The Automobile Club of Southern California projects 4.5 million Southern Californians will travel during the Thanksgiving holiday period this year – an all-time record for the holiday and a 2.5% increase from last year.
Nationwide, AAA is projecting this Thanksgiving to be the third busiest on record, with 54.6 million travelers expected compared to 58.6 million in 2005 and 56 million in 2019.
“Despite inflation and high gas prices, consumers are continuing to prioritize valuable and memorable time with family and friends through coming together at the holidays,” said Heather Felix, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. “Our members still want to make up for their delayed or missed opportunities to travel during the pandemic.”
Nationally, AAA expects Anaheim to be the second-most popular destination for Thanksgiving travelers, with Orlando the most popular. According to a survey of Auto Club travel advisers, the top five destinations for Southern Californians are:
1) Las Vegas
2) San Diego
3) Grand Canyon/Sedona
5) Mexico cruises
The top 5 destinations nationally are Orlando, Anaheim, Las Vegas, New York and Atlanta.
For the second year in a row, Southern California travelers will be paying the highest gas prices ever for this time of year when they fill up for their holiday trips. With average gas prices near $5.50 a gallon in most local areas – about a dollar per gallon higher than last year - a typical 15-gallon tank fill-up could cost drivers $82. To find the cheapest gas prices closest to your location, use the AAA Mobile app, and visit gasprices.aaa.com to find the average gas prices at your destination or calculate the estimated gas cost for your Thanksgiving trip.
- If traveling by automobile, make sure your vehicle maintenance is up-to-date and your tires and battery are in good condition. The Auto Club expects to respond to nearly 48,000 calls for help in Southern California over the Thanksgiving weekend. Visit AAA.com/AAR to find a reputable AAA-Approved Auto Repair facility near you.
- Air travelers should plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours ahead of time for international departures. The Auto Club recommends reserving a parking space at the airport to make sure you have one, and taking advantage of tools such as early check-in and airline apps.
According to the transportation analytics firm INRIX, Wednesday, Nov. 23 in the afternoon and evening will be the busiest time for Southland freeways. They project that the busiest local freeway segment for drivers will be Interstate 5 South from Colorado St. to Florence Ave, where traffic is expected to be 144% over normal levels on the afternoon and evening of Nov. 24. All outbound freeways are likely to be congested on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons before Thanksgiving, so drivers should expect longer travel times during those periods and plan to leave early.
In cooperation with AAA, S&P Global Market Intelligence developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes. The economic variables used to forecast travel for the current holiday are leveraged from S&P Global Market Intelligence’s proprietary databases. These data include macroeconomic drivers such as employment; output; household net worth; asset prices, including stock indices; interest rates; housing market indicators, and variables related to travel and tourism, including gasoline prices, airline travel, and hotel stays. AAA and S&P Global Market Intelligence have quantified holiday travel volumes going back to 2000.
Historical travel volume estimates come from DK SHIFFLET’s TRAVEL PERFORMANCE/Monitorsm. The PERFORMANCE/Monitorsm is a comprehensive study measuring the travel behavior of U.S. residents. DK SHIFFLET contacts over 50,000 U.S. households each month to obtain detailed travel data, resulting in the unique ability to estimate visitor volume and spending, identify trends and forecast U.S. travel behavior—all after the trips have been taken.
The travel forecast is reported in person-trips. In particular, AAA and S&P Global Market Intelligence forecast the total U.S. holiday travel volume and expected mode of transportation. The travel forecast presented in this report was prepared the week of October 10, 2022.